Back in August week nine was supposed to be a hell of a week. Now it looks like a pretty good week, but just not in the places that we thought it was going to be.
Hot Duzz Shift
Despite falling flat on their face against Syracuse, Virginia Tech is neck and neck in the Coastal race with North Carolina, whom the Hokies have a tiebreaker over but one less conference game. Also hanging tough is Pitt, who to this point has only played three conference games. So something is going to have to give here, and I don’t it’s going to be Virginia Tech’s 6th ranked defense according to S&P+. At either rate, this is an interesting games that pits two of the hottest coaches in the game right now. You have a plethora of alternative options to stream on the device of your choosing: App State at Georgia Southern which has major Sun Belt implications, Akron at Buffalo, and The Ohio University of Ohio at Ohio (OH) playing at Toledo.
California Über Alles Shift
College football’s most unpredictable team, Cal, goes down Interstate 5 to play USC. Because Cal is unpredictable, I cannot write any more words about this game other than the following: Cal is playing in this football game, so you should watch it.
Port Of Tampa Shift
On Friday night, we exchange quantity for quality: Navy and South Florida. Ken Niumatalolo and Willie Taggart. If you’re a college football fan, you should be sold already. And if you’re not but you enjoy rushing the ball, then you’re also in luck because this is a game that features two top 10 teams in rushing S&P+ with Navy (obviously) at three and USF at eight. Also on this shift: San Diego State at Utah State LIVE from Romney Stadium.
V For Vendetta (Against White Wine) Shift
It’s Air Force and a team that just fired their coach. It’s football so you should watch it, but it’s not a tragedy if you don’t.
Little Brother Shift
Michigan and Michigan State was one of the more anticipated games in the preseason, and the shine has kinda sorted been removed from that by Michigan looking really, really good and Michigan State underachieving...just don’t tell that to Mark Dantonio. But for me, the game that draws the most interest is West By God Virginia at Okie Lite. Yes the same West F’nin Virginia Mountaineers that sit at 6-0, also known colloquially as “undefeated”. For what it’s worth, S&P+ don’t think that the ‘Eers are “legit”, they’re only ranked 21st in the metric, but this may be one of the times where college football just steps outside of all logic and reason. Their run was supposed to be put to the test two weeks ago when they lined up against Texas Tech’s jet turbine of an offense and then the following week against Gary Patterson and defensive-minded TCU. They passed both tests, and in pretty convincing fashion to boot. So now it’s up to Oklahoma State to prevent the glitch in the matrix becoming an actuality and West Virginia making the playoffs. Oklahoma State, which yes lol lost to Central Michigan ok that’s funny but they lost on a fluke play that should not have happened in the first place and were competitive in their other loss to Baylor, who is also undefeated.
Yeah, I know right?
You know what the rest of the deal is: typical noon game fodder. Lamar Jackson gets to murderface Virginia, Penn State gets to have a nice come down off of their upset against Ohio State with a game against a head coachless Purdue (wrongfully labeled as “PSU” on the sheet but honestly Penn State playing Penn State would be more watchable) and Duke-Georgia Tech. But let me tell you a little ditty about a game that I did not realize when I made the sheet: Kentucky is playing for a trip to Atlanta so their game against Missouri has actual ramifications.
Yeah, I know right?
World’s Largest Outdoor [REDACTED] Shift
Gameday will be broadcasting from Salt Lake City for Washington-Utah, a match up that is looking more and more likely to be the PAC-12 Championship match up. But in order for that to happen, the losing team would slip behind the second place team in each division, Washington State (!) in the North and Colorado (!!) in the South. Jake Browning is the Heisman candidate that nobody is talking about and this can be the just the exposure he needs to throw his name into the fire and earn an invite to New York City.
On paper, Florida should have their way with Georgia, but as we’ve seen in the past the WLOCP is one of the rivalries where stats and insight mean nothing because anything can happen. Now that the LSU is cinched away, Florida is on an even playing field with Tennessee, meaning a loss to the Bulldogs can ruin the Gators for good as well as put Kentucky in the driver’s seat in the East.
Miami and Notre Dame renew their Catholics vs. Convicts rivalry but...only much more sad. If Miami loses, then Mark Richt has officially lost control of Miami in his fourth straight loss after jumping out to a 4-0. If Notre Dame loses to fall to 2-6 the Brian Kelly MIGHT get fired on the field and Notre Dame’s list of losses will be wholly unimpressive unless you’re reading this from August: Texas, Michigan State, Duke, NC State (which is actually pretty acceptable now), Stanford, and Miami. The winner either way? You, dear reader. You’re the winner here.
TCU’s defense is experiencing a regression, so Texas Tech is going to score a lot but...they aren’t going to win. I won’t lead you on like that.
Build Me Up Buttercup Shift
I don’t mean to alert you, but Nebraska is also right there with West Virginia in the ranks of the unbeatens. They’ve largely done it by being good across the board instead of great in once single category: 34th in offensive S&P+, 22nd in defensive S&P+, which brings them to 22nd overall in the metric. The issue with that is this week they have one of, if not the best two loss team in the nation in Madison, WI. Anchored by the 5th best defense according to S&P+, the Badgers are still sitting inside of the top 10 despite losses to Michigan and Ohio State in back to back weeks. Save us, Badgers.
Continuing the motif of suddenly disappointing games, Clemson at Florida State! Clemson held up their end of the bargain, Florida State...not so much. The Seminoles defense is slowly rounding up the impossible standard set by the offense (8th in S&P+) but the national implications have been stripped away from the game unless Florida State can spring a trap for Clemson.
I know this is a tough sell, but LSU fans need to be rooting for Ole Miss to beat Auburn. Nevermind how Ole Miss is going to stop Auburn’s running attack, but if Auburn wins and LSU does the damn thing and sinks Bama, then that opens up a window for Auburn to do the same and best Alabama to springboard into Atlanta. I know that’s assuming a hell of a lot but I’m just making sure all of your bases are covered.
Also on this shift: Tennessee @ South Carolina and Tulsa @ Memphis in what lowkey may be pure fun in football fun. Yeah, have that one on in some capacity.
Excrement From Chickens, Horses, And Other Fine Farm Animals Shift
Oregon State is bad! Washington State is good! Oh my God there’s going to be some blood in that stool, baby.
And there’s Stanford-Arizona, and...and...and yeah the late night shift is pretty bad this week. This shift needs a hero, a watchful guardian, a silent protector of the late night shift to restore order and give us colorful football that is as drunk as we are.
Light the signal. Bring him home.